Bruno Kreisky Foundation

for Human Rights

Kreisky Prize for West Eastern Orchestra

The "West Eastern Divan Orchestra" and three associations that look after torture and war survivors received the Bruno Kreisky Prize for services to human rights on Friday evening in the Musikverein.

Rusty barbed wire (Image: Fotolia/C_M_D) Daniel Barenboim (Image: DPA/Andreas Gebert)
Daniel Barenboim is one of the founders of the West Eastern Divan Orchestra.

“The musicians deserve it”
Conductor Daniel Barenboim received the award for founding the West Eastern Divan Orchestra. In 1999, together with the late Palestinian literary scholar Edward Said, he established an orchestra with young musicians from Israel, Palestine and various countries in the Middle East.

In his acceptance speech, Barenboim said in the Wiener Musikverein that a two-state solution within the borders of 1967 was the only conceivable option for the Middle East: "But the politics of the past few years have led to nothing but more hatred." You have to look at the price to say clearly: "I don't deserve it, but the musicians of the orchestra deserve it."

The West Eastern Divan Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim (Image: Luis Castilla)
The orchestra has been based in Seville since 2002.

A concept for world culture
The orchestra was founded at the invitation of the Weimar Art Festival. First of all, an intercultural dialogue was made possible in a workshop for young musicians. The experience of working together on a common basis should be encouraged.
Barenboim and Said named the orchestra and the workshop after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's collection of poems "West-Eastern Divan", a central work for the development of a concept of world culture. The orchestra's first appearances were in Weimar and Chicago. Relocated in 2002
to Seville, where it settled permanently.

Lots to do – also in Austria
In addition to the orchestra, three associations that look after survivors of torture and war also received awards: the psychosocial center ESRA and the associations ASPIS and HEMAYAT. Laudator Andre Heller was pleased that people were honored who "offer orientation in demon mazes, fear resolution and much more".

Laudator Andre Heller (Image: APA/Michael Bigus)
Help in "Orientation in Demon Mazes".

Foundation manager Oliver Rathkolb said that one should not believe "that we don't have enough to do in Austria to enforce human rights". Maria Lind from ASPIS described that Carinthia did not receive a cent in subsidies: "And today we are being awarded precisely for this work - that makes us proud."

ASPIS, an independent institution at the University of Klagenfurt, is dedicated to providing psychotherapeutic and psychosocial help for traumatized people. Particular attention is paid to today's victims of torture and survivors of Nazi terror.

(from left) David Vyssoki, Gerda Netopil, Elinor Haber and Peter Schwarz from the ESRA psychosocial center (Image: APA/Eiselt-kommunikation)
Help for traumatized victims.

Long-standing commitment to people
The ESRA psychosocial center was honored for its social responsibility towards the survivors of Nazi persecution. For 17 years, the employees have been advising, accompanying and treating traumatized people free of charge. ESRA also offers help for survivors of Nazi persecution and their descendants, as well as for Jewish migrants and their families.

HEMAYAT was founded in Vienna in 1955. Translated, the name of the association means care and protection. In the meantime, the association has established itself as a center for medical, psychological and psychotherapeutic care for torture and war survivors.

First awarded in 1979
The Bruno Kreisky Prize for services to human rights is awarded at irregular intervals by a foundation. This was established on the occasion of Bruno Kreisky's 65th birthday in 1976 and endowed with 700,000 euros.

Bruno Kreisky in a photo from 1988 (Image: APA/Robert Jäger) 
Prize for Bruno Kreisky's 65th birthday.

The prize was first awarded in 1979. Previous winners include Nelson Mandela, Benazir Bhutto and the former Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Franz König.